Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Another funny Mac-PC ad spoof

The problem at YouTube is its hard to stop at just one.

Funniest iPhone video ever!

A friend of mine just gave me the YouTube link. Been laughing ever since.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

What drives you?

This question arises from a more basic question that a lot of people, including my wife, have asked me numerous times- Why do you work on weekends? Lets put this entry in perspective- its a clear Saturday afternoon in New York. I am in lab where my samples are incubating. This post is to justify my work and habits to myself. That and I have also started touch-typing recently so I won't waste a lot of time on this verbose piece.

I don't really have a 'real job'. I don't get up in the morning, take a train somewhere to hunch in front of a glowing screen or sell things to people. Unfortunately, I also don't make money like the people in the previous sentence. I have to make do on a meager stipend, which if you calculate the amount of hours I put in, falls way below minimum wage stipulations.

What drives me?

Your work takes up most of your days. For most (sane) people, the purpose of work is to earn money to improve the quality of the other part of their life. For me, the quality of my other (non-working) life is improved not by material things (gadgets are a BIG exception- they increase productivity!) but by knowledge about myself. I don't like to call what I do work at all. I think of and chase an idea. To find out a very tiny piece of the puzzle of how nature works. Sometimes the idea works. Most times it doesn't. More than figuring out the answer to the puzzle that will eventually (and hopefully) become my graduate thesis, I get my reward in finding out how much I, alone, can accomplish in the given state of affairs. How can I ask a better question? How can I set up an experiment that will answer a series of questions with least assumptions and no loose ends? How do I prove or disprove something that I think about a (any) system? At the end of the day, did my approach work? If I don't see what I expect, what do I see and how can I fit the data in the broad scheme of things? How do I bounce back from failure? How do I deal with people who want to help me and those who want to tear me down? How do I maintain a healthy level of dispassion from my work so that I don't go crazy and drive people around me crazy? I find answers to THESE questions everyday. And every question I ask is better than the previous one. That is my reward.

I am in a race. A race to find out something about a system that competitors and companies with more people and money are working on too. Will I get discouraged and settle for a lesser question? What about the Kenyan marathon runner who outruns his more healthy eating, sophisticated-equipment trained and cash rich American competitor? The power lies in ideas and attitudes, not brute force numbers. Coming back to the need for working on weekends. A person working weekends works around 25% more than a person who does not. Have you ever heard of a race where one team has a 25% lead on another?

There- typed all that in 16 minutes. Still have 14 minutes to spare.

Moral of the post- find out what really drives you and do that. You will be able to deal with everything around you much better.

The ultimate phone (as of today)

Move over Apple iPhone droolers. The most technologically advanced, feature rich, slick phone is now available for interested people- mostly for the gadget obssessed and independently wealthy.

Its called the Eten Glofish M700. Eten is a Taiwanese high-end consumer electronics maker. The specs of the phone reads like every gadget geeks dream:

  1. Quad band GSM 850/900/1800/1900: meaning you could use it on any GSM network in the USA, Europe and Asia.
  2. 2.8" TFT touch screen display 240x320 pixels, handwriting recognition and a sliding QWERTY keyboard. This is a huge deal because you can comfortably and quickly type on this phone.
  3. Wi-Fi, GPS (SiRF StarIII chip). This is is coolest feature. This phone not only has Wi-Fi internet so that you can get onto wireless networks without paying an arm and a leg to your cellphone service provider, BUT the phone is also a GPS device. You can use it for GPS navigation while driving or use it as a handheld GPS device when you are hiking or meeting friends in that obscure cafe in the east village in Manhattan. GPS is the best feature a cellphone can have. Think about it, you can never get lost!
  4. Windows Mobile 5 OS, Bluetooth, GPRS, 2MP camera, music player, FM radio, Micro SD expansion.... all the yadda yadda that every phone has these days.

Now for the price. At $612 (cheapest online price), its not a cheap phone. But given that a GPS device is around $200 at least, and iPod is another $200, that's $400 just for those features. So a Windows smart phone for $212 isn't a bad deal.

Compare the above to the iPhone which has approximately a 50% profit margin per phone. It has no keyboard (typing on a touchscreen, even with handwriting recognition is HORRIBLE! Trust me, I have a Tablet PC), no storage expansion, no replaceable battery, no GPS and a hefty service plan charge from Cingular per month. All this for $600. And available in June 2007. LG is already set to launch their touch screen phone, very similar to Apple's next month.

If you are saving up for the ultimate phone, look no further than the Eten M700. I have already started checking my bank balance for possible ways to bounce back after the purchase.

Friday, January 12, 2007


So the consensus amongst techies seems to be that the iPhone won't do well when its released later this year.

The iPod and the first macintosh were unlike any other device in terms of function when they were released. This is why people flocked to a new and cool thing. There are many devices that do well what the iPhone claims to do. Add low memory, battery life and high cost and you see the problem. The limit as to why you can't do 50 different things on your cellphone is the battery life of your cellphone. If your iPod or Palm battery runs out, not a big deal. If your cellphone battery runs out- problem. The final killer is that you will not be able to replace the battery on your own- you have to ship it to Apple. Wow. Remember the Moto Rokr phone? Was launched at the first phone with integrated iTunes (512 mb) with much fanfare 2 years ago? Didn't think so.

That hasn't stopped a funny piece by Craig Ferguson (love his accent) on CBS. Enjoy-

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Apple juggernaut continues...

By now most of the Internet connected world knows about the Apple iPhone. Not surprising considering it was announced about a day ago. Apple would like you to believe that your life will be sad without their $500+ iPhone. Here are a few big problems with this next generation do-everything-but-the-laundry gadget:

1. Maxes out at 8GB storage. IMHO, Apple should have made it thicker and stuck a 30GB drive in it. When you have a device that can store and play music, video, photos, pdf files, web pages and rich-text email, you would assume that the storage capacity would run out pretty fast. If you need to keep syncing it at regular intervals to manage your files (because of low capacity), you kinda defeat the purpose of a standalone do-it-all device.

2. How scratch-proof is the screen really? If the iPods are anything to go by, the ladies will want to cut their nails before letting their fingers go wild on the screen.

3. How about also telling us the battery life with all the bells and whistles on? A cellphone is a mission critical device and if using Wi-Fi, visual voicemail etc on that hi-res screen hogs on battery life, it will remain underutilized for most users. I am still waiting for Apple to come out with a device that beats Creative devices in battery life.

4. $500 even with a 2 year contract? Not including the premium Cingular will charge for the service? We're talking an arm and a leg for the general populace that salivate over every Apple product launch. Given that most of us have a computer and home and work to check email, browse etc, that seems to be a hefty price to pay for doing the same thing on the commute. Hmmm...

What about me? Well, I have started setting money aside to get the 8GB iPhone when it comes out. Luckily it coincides with when my current Cingular contract expires...

Goodbye JB

Once in a while, you meet people that are talented, courteous, helpful and friendly. JB was such a person. A very talented electron microscopist, extremely helpful, patient and with a great British sense of humor. We met 3 years ago when I wanted to do some electron microscopy for my project. The problem was that I had never seen an electron microscope before and knew as much about EM as the fruit seller on 62nd and 2nd (well, just a bit more than him). The second problem was that JB was one the pioneers of the EM field and was your average famous scientist. Usually when such meetings happen, either the newbie is intimidated or the honcho gets frustrated. It was JB who took me under his wing, taught me everything about EM and got me talking about my project to him as well. He was so interested in my project that he told other people about my creative project and they in turn started asking me if I can use my system for their protein. This continued for most of 2005.

I emailed him yesterday so that we could meet up, after almost a year of lull in the EM front of my work. I had been learning more advanced EM techniques (even went all the way to California for an advanced training course). He replied saying that he had moved to the UK and was setting up a lab there. The suddenness of this news and the fact that I wouldn't be able to discuss ideas and problems easily with him anymore put a cloud on my day. Goodbye dear JB and good luck to you. Thank you for your support and training. If I ever do something cool with EM, please know that it will be because you got me motivated into it in the first place. I hope you continue to inspire many more people like me.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Only in the US

I went with a friend to a pet store for her dog's food. Just when I think there is nothing left to amaze me about the US (it may be a Manhattan thing, but anyway), I see bottles of Vitamin water for dogs. That's not all, there are 2 flavors. I used to think that vitamin water for humans was stupid enough. I walked around the corner and saw that pooches too can now have the benefit of no grain, lo carb, organic foods just like their no-whip-lite-soy-splenda-mocha-frappuchino drinking owners.

My source of amazement and sarcasm may well be because I come from a country where most people (yep, just like you and me, unless you have a computer that woofs out words to your dog- hey, just wait!) have limited access to drinking water and quality of food that is worse than the $17 /lb Evo organic dog food. It may shock some people to know that Indian dogs eat leftovers and stay just as healthy as American dawgs. The Upper East Side of Manhattan also has something called a Doggie Gym where Fido can actually exercise indoors on specially made dog exercise equipment.

A bit of doggie facts before you leave- dogs can't see color like humans can. They are like a red-green colorblind person. Anything that is red, they will only see in a pale shade of yellow and green will be white. They are able to differentiate some deeper blue/ violet shades. Trust me, I am studying vision receptors for my PhD. A dog's eyes can also not see the level of detail that a human eye can. For example, a barcode will be a grey blur. So all the cute pawprints on your doggie's bowl and toys are pretty much useless.

You see, I have a feeling that the above is targeted more for you than your pet. Don't display your dumbness so profoundly as to actually believe that Fluffy actually cares whether his food is organic or if his water tastes of cherries. All he wants is to spend time with you.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

mobile blogging

This is blue lasers first attempt at mobile blogging.

Happy 2007

How would you not say it? I'll tell you. Don't say it as a scrapbook entry on Orkut. Or send out a mass email to all the 359 'friends' of yours on Orkut. To me that sounds terribly impersonal, lazy and insincere.

A call or even a slightly personal email is so much better. Even text messaging is a good option. At least you don't have to think where you figure in the 359 list.